Monday, October 29, 2018

People who say "Jews, Italians, and the Irish weren't white" don't understand the difference between whiteness and Protestantism

I tweeted
In the US, Jews, Italians, and the Irish were always racially white but tribally Not Protestant. People who say they became white miss the fact that you cannot change your race, but who may join a tribe can change, which is what happened to the US’s white not-Protestants.
I suspect the reason is religious differences are generally seen as unimportant today, with the exception of Muslims, who some people racialize even though Islam is one of the world's great universal religions.

The US's laws for immigration and its census have always made it clear that people from Europe are white, regardless of their religion. The Confederacy, which rivals Nazi Germany for being the world's most race-obsessed nation, had a Jewish Secretary of State, and many Jewish slaveowners fought for it. The Jim Crow south, which was even more racist than the Confederacy* gave white Jews and Catholics every privilege of whiteness. They just didn't give them the privileges of Protestantism.

Middle Easterners had to go to court to establish their whiteness in the US, but the whiteness of the Irish, the Italians, and European Jews was never seriously questioned until privilege theorists began redefining whiteness. Yes, some people insulted them by saying they were not white, but when I was a boy caught up in the civil rights movement, racists insulted me by saying I was not white. That did not make me not white in Florida in the early '60s.

* The definition of whiteness changed during Jim Crow from 3/4 or 7/8 white, depending on the state, to one drop of blood. See Four things Nikole Hannah-Jones doesn't know about race and class in the US.

ETA: Just shared this on social media:
If you think Protestantism is not important in the US:

23.9% of the US is Catholic. Only one of 45 Presidents has been Catholic.

13.4% of the US is black. One has been President.

Statistically, a black Protestant has a better shot at being President than a white Catholic.
 ETA 2: Just shared this:
The difference between racial and ethnic prejudice in the US is most easily seen in the US’s south, where
(1) white Jews and Catholics used white facilties and
(2) served in the military like other white people
yet both were hated by the Ku Klux Klan for not being Protestant. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Four things Nikole Hannah-Jones doesn't know about race and class in the US

The following tweets from a woman whose twitter bio announces that she writes about "race in the U.S. from 1619-present" were even more surprising than the things I noted previously.

1. The history of voting is more complex than she thinks.

Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted:

I replied, "Respectfully, read more history. Poor white men could not vote at first either. Property was the first requirement."

Race reductionists cannot grasp that our founders prioritized class. During the colonial period, voting in the US was based on owning land.  Heads of households were usually male, but widows could vote because class trumped identity. In some colonies, wealthy people of the wrong religion (Jews, Catholics, etc.) or race (blacks, Native Americans, etc.) were excluded along with poor white men, but they kept the other privileges of wealth.

The principle that wealth mattered most continued after 1776. In New Jersey, wealthy white women as well as wealthy people of color could vote when poor white men could not. Rich black men could vote in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The triumph of identity as a requirement to vote came decades later, when property requirements were being discarded. From Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People:

2. Seriously more complex than she thinks.

Ms. Hannah-Jones tweeted:

This conflates several historical processes. Racism in the US had been growing ever since Bacon's Rebellion, when the rich began dividing the working class by race. In parallel, the demand for democracy was growing. Most people know that correlation is not necessarily causation, but Ms. Hannah-Jones happily links two things to support her reductionist thesis.

3. There were very rich black slaveowners.

In the following exchange, Ms. Hannah-Jones tweeted:

I replied, "If you don't know about rich black slaveowners, you should not be writing about race or slavery" and suggested she start with William Ellison.

The existence of black slaveowners is a sore point with people who cannot see the contradiction in insisting slavery was an individual choice for white slaveowners so you should not say anything good about someone like Jefferson, but it was a systemic matter for black slaveowners, so you should excuse people like the Widow C. Richards. When someone offered a link to Black Slaveowners, a book by Larry Koger, who studied history at Howard, a historically black university, Ms. Hannah-Jones tweeted that offering inconvenient facts would result in being blocked:

Some of her followers insisted the number of black slaveowners was too small to be relevant, but any fact that does not fit a thesis is relevant. There were certainly more than a handful. R. Halliburton Jr. notes, "The census of 1830 lists 3,775 free Negroes who owned a total of 12,760 slaves."

We also know that some black slaveowners were extremely wealthy. See Henry Louis Gates' Did Black People Own Slaves? and Top 10 Black Slaveowners.

4. There were slaves who were legally white.

Ms. Hannah-Jones tweeted:

While it is true that slavery in the US was racialized, black people could buy white people. Many people assume the one-drop rule for whiteness was always the rule, but it was a creation of Jim Crow. They also assume that being black was the requirement for being a slave, but the actual requirement was being the child of a slave.

In the old South, whether you were white depended on which state you were in. In most states, you were legally white if you were a quadroon, a person who was 3/4 white. In a few, you were legally white if you were an octoroon, a person who was 7/8 white. Whiteness did not free you from slavery. Only an owner could do that.

New Englander George Fuller painted "The Quadroon" after visiting a slave sale in the south.

He wrote about it:
Who is this girl with eyes large and black? The blood of the white and dark races is at enmity in her veins—the former predominated. About ¾ white says one dealer. Three fourths blessed, a fraction accursed. She is under thy feet, white man. . . . Is she not your sister?
His use of "accursed" is poetic, not racist—note his question for white men who have the power to end slavery. Her curse is the law that lets her be a slave because her mother was one. Some racist abolitionists hated slavery primarily because it allowed for the enslavement of white people—see examples at White Slaves – The Multiracial Activist.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Things I learned from tweeting with Nikole Hannah-Jones

I was just in a long and much-too-distracting but still informative twitter war that began when I made this tweet citing How Obama Destroyed Black Wealth:

Numbered for convenience, not importance:

1. "Bemused" really wasn't the right word. I hates that, I do. But, as Twain noted, sometimes you reach for lightning and get a lightning bug.

2. When lots of identitarians attack me, I get more Twitter followers. Add this to the list of ways identitarianism constantly defeats itself.

3. I suspect I'd like Nikole if I knew her, and I completely understand why people who share her ideology admire her.

4. Like most privileged identitarians that I've met, she is extremely sensitive to any hint of condescension and extremely quick to ridicule people she disagrees with.

5. I do not have a clue what she thinks her political philosophy is. She insists she is not a neoliberal, she defends Obama's and Clinton's neoliberalism, and she agreed when I cited Malcolm X's observation, "You can't have capitalism without racism."

6. Her contradictions are magnified in her fans. The most ignorant claim I saw:

To say that, you have to believe all black people are homeless and anything that is done to hurt them is done by racists. What their ideology keeps them from seeing is that the policies which disproportionately hurt black people because black people are disproportionately poor were enacted by people who don't care enough about the poor of any race to hate them. They only care about maintaining Wall Street.

7. Identitarians don't understand that statistics are irrelevant when talking about individuals. A homeless guy sleeping next to Bezos's home is part of a two-person community with an average wealth of $78 billion dollars, but he still has none of it.

8. Her ideological contradictions are powerful, as this tweet shows:

9. People like this support her:

As you may guess, Shang Ho thinks white people are privileged for statistical reasons and doesn't care that Asian Americans are more economically privileged than white ethnically Christian Americans because US immigration laws ensure that, except for refugees, Asian immigrants are wealthy or well-educated.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The first three black female superheroes to star in their own comics from major publishers

In a different universe, DC Comics published the first book with a black female superhero as the headliner, but in our universe, their plan for a Vixen series in 1978 was cancelled at the last minute, not because of racism or sexism, but because DC was facing financial hard times, so they cancelled all their new books and a few existing ones as well.

In our world, these are the first three superhero comics named for their black female leads.


Marvel’s Monica Rambeau appeared in a one-shot issue that was released to protect Marvel’s trademark on Captain Marvel's name.


Marvel's Epic division offered Captain Confederacy as a four-issue series.


Marvel gave Storm a four-issue series.

Bonus! In 1990, Martha Washington was the star of Darkhorse Comics' Give Me Liberty and deserves to be remembered in any history of black female comics heroes, but she was a science fiction character, not a superhero, and the book wasn't named for her, so she's only a footnote in this particular list.

ETA: To put this in perspective, Miss Fury and the Invisible Scarlet O’Neill  had their own newspaper strips in 1941, and Sheena and Wonder Woman were given their own books in 1942.

Friday, October 19, 2018

If Basic Income can't work, why did Finland and Canada kill their tests before they had finished?

Two tests were begun, then cancelled early by conservative governments. The only conclusion I can draw is they were afraid the tests would prove Basic Income works.

Basic Income Experiment Killed in Ontario, Canada, Igniting Complaints | Fortune:
Ontario, Canada has scrapped its experiment with basic income—a hot but largely untested idea for reducing poverty—before any results could be gleaned, sparking criticism from researchers and outrage from program recipients.
Opinion | Universal Basic Income Didn’t Fail in Finland. Finland Failed It. - The New York Times
the demise of the U.B.I. experiment in Finland can’t be said to mean that U.B.I. has failed here. Not only are preliminary official results not even expected until 2019, but the Finnish government’s U.B.I. pilot project never really was about U.B.I.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

link: What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?

From What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?
“I’ve had cases where we know what the allegations are and we know who said them. None of that is true here,” he said. “The intersection between the internet and allegations like this and anonymity is very dangerous place to be. There’s no protection for the accused. It’s the perfect way to assassinate someone’s character without having to prove anything.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Two useful studies found most Americans of all races reject "Political Correctness"

Large Majorities Dislike Political Correctness - The Atlantic

In 'political correctness' debate, most Americans think too many people are easily offended | Pew Research Center

Some people say the studies are not meaningful because the term is not precisely defined, but the term has been around for decades. There is a consensus on its meaning. While people may disagree on a few examples, this is clear: Americans don't like word-policing.

And further, most Americans realize that politically correct does not refer to good manners or civility—those who think they're the word police rarely show good manners or behave civilly.

Did I gaslight an identitarian friend? or To Crusaders, God's deniers are Satan's liars

I'm fairly tolerant of political disagreement, so long as you're not hurting anyone and not in a position to change the law, but I've lost a few identitarian friends over the years because their beliefs require constant validation. Believers in secular religions, whether theistic or atheistic, need to stay in the company of fellow believers.

I don't mean to sound glib—I miss the people I thought they were. And I don't mean to suggest they're bad people for demanding conformity or silence.  Many people do. They think that if they occasionally have to burn a witch to save the group, it's only hard on the witch.

At the time, that may be true. But years after the Salem witch trials, a judge and several jurors apologized for being "under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with and not experienced in matters of that nature". The jurors' apology gives me hope for my species, even though it saved no lives. But so far as I know, some jurors never realized they were wrong. Belief systems have powerful ways to protect themselves.* We are, after all, rationalizing animals.

Which is why my former friend accused me of gaslighting when I offered facts that didn't fit his preconceptions. His charge made me see that "gaslighting" needs two definitions. The first: someone is trying to make you doubt your sanity by lying to you. The second: you declare someone a liar to keep from doubting yourself. The mental health industry cares for a great many people who are sure they're sane and being gaslit.

* See “My-side bias” makes it difficult for us to see the logic in arguments we disagree with

Surprisingly relevant: Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture

Monday, October 8, 2018

Orwell on virtue-signalling and toothpaste-sellers

John Halle shared this on Facebook:
Here's the beginning of Orwell's review of a forgotten book by a self-described supporter of Indian independence which both defines and describes virtue signaling in something like a pure form. Unfortunately, it's not available as text so can only post an image from google books. It's enough to give an idea-which is that even back then, the same tendencies being discussed above were apparent to Orwell and, evidently, prevalent, in his opinion at least.

more here:
and here:
key passage: "This is just the mistake a toothpaste advertiser would not make. But then the toothpaste advertiser is trying to sell toothpaste and not get his own back on that Blimp who turned him out of a first-class carriage fifteen years ago."  
Bottom line: much of what passes for politics is not in that politics, by definition involves convincing others in order to change their views and behavior. But it is clear from both the content and tone of the passages such as the above that that is *not* the intention. Thus, it must have a different objective-and that's where the term "virtue signaling" comes in and is useful. 
I had always thought that virtue-signaling was something one did for others, so the community would accept you and the mob would not make you its next victim. But as Orwell explains it, it's as much or more something you do for yourself, to tell yourself you are a good person though you know you have lost. All believers in a Lost Cause act this way, and their fellow believers appreciate it.

I recommend the discussion that follows this at John's post.

Friday, October 5, 2018

a few quick definitions: social justice, socialism, social justice worker vs warrior

Social justice: Improve the lives of the poor

Socialism: End the class system

Social justice worker: Help the poor and treat all with love and respect

Social justice warrior: Insult, dox, threaten, blacklist, ban, no platform, and get people fired while citing social justice

The heart of my universalism

"I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me." —Terence the Playwright, originally a slave from Roman Africa, but whose race no one knows because race didn't matter then.

When I shared that on Facebook, someone commented, “Really? Where does barbarian derive from?“ I replied:
Barbarian comes from a Greek word that meant “people who sound like they’re saying bar-bar”. It’s about culture, not race.

It’s why the story of the tower of Babel is about people being divided by language, not race.

It’s why the New Testament says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” and does not mention race.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Was Mark Twain the first to speak of white privilege?

From Following the Equator:
January 30. What a spectacle the railway station was, at train-time! It was a very large station, yet when we arrived it seemed as if the whole world was present—half of it inside, the other half outside, and both halves, bearing mountainous head-loads of bedding and other freight, trying simultaneously to pass each other, in opposing floods, in one narrow door. These opposing floods were patient, gentle, long-suffering natives, with whites scattered among them at rare intervals; and wherever a white man’s native servant appeared, that native seemed to have put aside his natural gentleness for the time and invested himself with the white man’s privilege of making a way for himself by promptly shoving all intervening black things out of it. In these exhibitions of authority Satan was scandalous. He was probably a Thug in one of his former incarnations.
Lest anyone miss this, the "white man's privilege" that Twain refers to is the privilege of thinking you're better than everyone else. Twain is not validating the concept. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A few people who killed themselves after false accusations of rape—including the mother of a man falsely accused

Yes, some guilty people may kill themselves while claiming to be innocent. But there is no doubt in these cases that the accusations were false:

Medical student cleared of raping woman whose earlier claim drove man to suicide - Telegraph:
Some jurors broke down in tears when they heard the 21 year old woman had wrongly accused another man of rape which led to him killing himself.
Forklift driver, 38, killed himself after being falsely accused of rape... despite texts 'proving sex was consensual':
A FORKLIFT truck driver took his own life after being falsely accused of rape – despite texts which “proved the sex was consensual”. Ross Bullock, 38, met his accuser in February … 
Mother of son who hanged himself after being accused of rape commits suicide a year later:
The family of Karin Cheshire, 55, said she “could not see a future” without her son, Jay, whose body was found in a park near their home after being accused of rape.  The rape complaint was withdrawn after two weeks...

Title IX cases that resulted in suicide, a suicide attempt at two colleges prompt fresh debate: Two lawsuits -- one involving accused student’s suicide and another about an attempt -- have added fire to the continued debate over how colleges handle complaints of sexual assault.

Police officer contemplated suicide after a woman falsely accused him of rape | Metro News

A handy list of "believe the victim" cases where "the victim" was wrong